Craig Spicy chili, hearty casserole, sumptuous desserts.
With all the sensory overload of just seeing and smelling items like these, it was all the audience could do Monday night to not rush the stage at the Taste of Home Cooking School and partake in some of the delicious dishes.
Seats were hard to find in the Moffat County High School auditorium during the popular culinary stage show, making a well-received return to Craig.
The show functions as a walk-through of beloved, easy-to-fix meals from the Taste of Home cookbook as well as a display of what’s new in the world of epicurean accessories and appliances.
Chef Kristi Larson prepared 10 different recipes during the show, all the while keeping the crowd entertained with trivia tidbits about each of the dishes and industry tips. A camera positioned above her work station was hooked to a projector, giving spectators a big-screen look at every step of the preparation process.
She also frequently took the opportunity to give away donated door prizes from national sponsors, like Johnsonville, Bisquick and Eggland’s Best, and those at the local level, such as Vallarta’s, Downtown Books and Miller Family Appliance, the latter of which gave away a new range stove to one lucky patron.
Larson, who has been interested in kitchen pursuits since age 5, takes the stage at about 40 Taste of Home events every year nationwide. Although her preference is baked goods, making any kind of a meal for a crowd is one of her passions.
“I think it’s a great way for people to see the Taste of Home magazine in person, learn some new recipes and meet other people who love to cook,” she said.
Even before the show, the MCHS lobby and commons area was heating up as local and regional businesses and vendors set up shop.
Former Craig resident Whitney Anderson, now of Rawlins, Wyo., brought in a selection of confections available through Dove Chocolate Discoveries.
“It’s their extended product line, it’s a direct sales kind of thing and we do things like chocolate tasting parties and let people sample it, they can place orders, anything they want,” she said Monday. “Everybody loves chocolate, and it was a good mix to bring it here tonight.”
Likewise, the staff of Cool Water Grille provided their own appetizers before the show began, with the unique offering “pork wings” flying out of serving containers and onto plates in no time.
“I think we’re the only restaurant in town who have anything like that,” said Erin Durham, the restaurant’s manager. “Moffat County people are kind of set in their ways, but they could always use a change.”
Durham was one of many in the audience who had never attended a Taste of Home event, though she particularly was interested in the kind of meals Larson was displaying.
“We can always use new ideas, especially people who have little children and long days at work,” she said.
Kelly Pyper, the new Family and Consumer Science teacher for MCHS, said she has read Taste of Home’s cookbooks and magazines regularly and tries to integrate them into her curriculum.
Among the more helpful parts of Larson’s presentation were plugs for new products, such as special containers used for the poached eggs in eggs Benedict, Pyper said.
“My students will be making hollandaise sauce in the classroom, so that was good for me,” she said.
Pyper said she thought the exhibition was something cooks of any level could learn from and appreciate, whether a source for recipes is your grandmother or the Internet.
“We’re all living such a fast-paced life, and she’s showing people easy, fun recipes that every family can cook that are not very expensive, yet convenient,” she said. “Whatever way you like to cook, (Larson)'s got that covered.”
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.